It’s been over a year since I’ve written a blog post and to say I’ve been busy is an understatement. Since then, I’ve become a mother to a beautiful baby girl who will be three months on Friday 26th May, I’ve moved to another home and I’ve been lecturing in a Masters programme at the University while keeping my full time job.
My daughter was born on Sunday 26th February 2017 and it was an experience like no other. No description anyone can give can truly express what carrying a child for 9 months and giving birth feels like and how it changes you. Your spouse can try to understand what you’re going through and how you’re feeling but there is honestly no description that can make him fully grasp the essence of carrying life and birthing life. I constantly felt as if my body was not my own but I was still responsible for taking such great care of it and prioritizing its needs. My pregnancy had its ups and downs but for the most part it was great. Of course I gained weight, more weight than I ever expected but right now I’m about 5 to 10 pounds shy of my pre-pregnancy weight.
I will always remember the first glance at my daughter and my first thought towards her…”Wow I have a daughter and she has my nose”. My daughter was past her due date and was taken away from me as soon as she was born due to medical complications. About 5 hours later I held her for the first time. I wish I could say it was what I expected but at that moment I simply felt hugely responsible yet blessed. I felt that it’s no longer about me and that I was responsible for providing for and taking care of another human being for as long as she couldn’t provide for and take care of herself. I also felt extremely blessed that God would entrust one of his children to my care and raising her in his ways was of most importance. I constantly remind myself that I’m taking care of one of God’s children.
The Cosmic has aligned things in such a way that my contract for my full time job ends tomorrow and I am only lecturing part time. This would allow me to spend more time with my baby girl. I do miss the work hustle a bit but “Baby is Boss”. Being home with her has allowed me to give her a night time routine that ensures she is in bed by 8PM and this works for everyone in the household, especially her. Her evening routine usually starts with a walk around 5PM, either by me, her dad, or both of us. We get in around 6:30PM and she relaxes for at least 15 minutes. She is given a bath between 6:45PM and 7:15PM, then a feeding in her room with dimmed lights, which lasts as long as she would like it to. Then it’s off to bed…on her own. I learned quite a lot from my grandmother about taking care of babies, so I knew early on that rocking and singing would not be part of her bed time routine. It’s important to let babies figure out how to fall asleep on their own. Once singing and rocking are associated with sleep, it’s hard to break that habit. I also learned that a night time routine will help to provide cues for her that are associated with sleep. Babies thrive on routine because it helps to avoid chaos and it insulates the baby from huge, unexpected changes. “They’re a necessary part of socialization,” says Larry Shapiro, PhD, author of The Secret Language of Children: How to Understand What Your Kids Are Really Saying (Sourcebooks, 2003). “When a child learns that it’s time to go to bed, not play, she’s beginning to understand that she has to follow rules.”
Her morning routine is also coming in quite nicely. She usually gets up between 6AM and 7AM, gets a bath about an hour to an hour and a half later, gets her feed in a dimly lit room and she is off to bed for at least 3 wonderful hours. This is the time I try to make the most of. I’ll get work done, chores done and anything that requires my complete focus and attention. Her day time routine from 11AM to 5PM is still a work in progress but I’m observing her to figure out what works best for her. I have always been an advocate of keeping a daily routine as an adult so it’s wonderful to pass that on to my daughter. While my daily routine in the past would have been mainly focused on my goals, I now prioritize my daughter and structure my daily routine around her.
This week did not go according to plan. My cousin became ill and was admitted to the hospital and I decided to be of assistance and look after her 2 year old daughter, Faith. Her other two children stayed with their dad and grandmom. Unfortunately Faith is yet to master the art of sleeping straight through the night. I took her on Tuesday night as her mom was admitted to the hospital that day. She was off to bed around 10PM on Tuesday night and around 1:30AM on Wednesday morning, she woke up, ready to play, watch television, eat popcorn and go swimming…yes swimming. She stayed up until 4AM and was back up at 5:30AM. I’m not sure how most mothers do it but I do give them praise for it. I dropped her off to daycare that morning and drove straight back home…I was a wreck. My plan to make it to work before 12PM proved to be futile and I spent the entire day at home. I usually take Faith for the day to give her mom some time to run errands and do chores, or just give her time for herself but since she turned one, she hasn’t really spent the night with me. Sadly on Wednesday, I wrote no blog posts. I woke up after my morning rest, got some chores done, ran some errands, visited her mom in the hospital then I picked her up by 6PM. Having her with me makes me feel somewhat like a mom. I’m actually happy driving home from work in traffic to pick her up and I usually prefer to stay in office late to avoid the traffic. Yesterday afternoon was really great. I picked her up, took her to the supermarket to get some essentials, visited the pharmacy for her children’s toothpaste, then we were home. How mother’s manage all of their work and home responsibilities is beyond me but they’re definitely superheros in my eyes. One day I will embark on the journey and be blessed by the God of my Heart to bring life into this world but until that day comes, I will have all the practice I need being an Aunt.
Oh how do I love my Aunt Bernadette. She is my father’s eldest sister and I often describe her as the epitome of female perfection. The respect I have for her as a person far surpasses the respect I have for my mother and father combined, not that I love my parents any less. I’ve always admired her approach when dealing with me and people in general. She has never raised her voice or her hand at me, yet she can easily influence my decision making. My parents on the other hand, have both raised theirs hands and voices at me and yet I have disobeyed them on numerous occasions. I recall noticing this about her as a teenager and I often wondered, how does she do it. I would look at other family members and friends who would often use aggression, obscene language or try to instill fear in someone else to get what they want from a person, whereas she would find kind words and even a bit of scripture to get her point across. This lady has amazed me all my life. She was diagnosed with breast cancer last year and even her approach to dealing with it has been inspiring. I would admit that growing up I was a bit more aggressive than I am now but after having noticed how my Aunt Bernadette got the things she needed and wanted in life by taking a gentler approach, I was determined to try it myself. I am no where close to being like her but I constantly aim for it. People and circumstances constantly test me to see how much I really want to change but it helps to focus my mind on her when I’m tempted to act otherwise. While there may be many people who have found a more aggressive approach to work for them and they have gotten what they wanted, it’s important to consider the psychological consequences of the person who is the recipient of such aggressive behavior. The emotional and mental abuse passed on to someone can affect so many aspects of that persons life and the people around them. Whenever I call my Aunt Bernadette for advice on anything, I can guarantee that she’ll be honest, give her opinion about both sides of the situation and always suggest I pray about it. Aunt Bernadette, I love you dearly, please continue to be an inspiration to me and for many others who look up to you.
Earlier this year, I read an article by Ivanka Trump talking about women not being able to have it all. Ivanka Trump is the daughter of business mogul Donald Trump. She is also the executive vice president of development and acquisitions for The Trump Organization and the founder of the Ivanka Trump fashion brand. Most importantly, she is a wife and a mother of two beautiful children, daughter Arabella Rose and son Joseph Frederick. Ivanka recently launched the initiative #WomenWhoWork, which aims to “celebrate the many different ways in which women work and to redefine and break stereotypes around, what it looks like to be a working woman today.”. In an interview with Business Insider, Trump explained her perspective on work-life balance. She frankly says, “You can’t have it all.” When people ask her how she balances work and life, her response is always: “I don’t, and I don’t try to.” “People obsess too much about balance,” she said. “A scale is only in balance for a brief second. Inevitably the pendulum swings. It’s impossible to maintain.” Ivanka says, it’s less about balancing a “work life” and a “home life” and more about creating one rich, full life that’s tailored to my specific goals and priorities.
As I’ve decided to give my personal and family life a bit more focus, I too am realising the difficulties with trying to create a balanced life. I began feeling a bit overwhelmed with my additional responsibilities and sometimes I even felt as if I needed to give up something in order to feel a greater sense of accomplishment in at least one area. I grew up watching the women in my family. My grandmother was the first to rise in the morning and the last one in the family to go to bed at night. For a working women who still has the responsibility of taking care of her husband and children, I can only imagine a full night’s rest of 8-10 hours sleep can seem like such a fairy tale. Sometimes I think that it’s a bit unfair for women but then again there are times I see how privileged we are. We are expected to be as educated as men but in some organisations, industries or countries, we will never be professionally equal to men. Even after contributing our day’s work at the office, we switch our hats, become more submissive and nurturing and come home to take care of our families.
It’s inevitable that some of us will have to sacrifice some of our professional goals for a family life. Having been so focused on my career for most of my life, I’m starting to realise that I need to view family life with equal or greater importance than I do my career. The drive and passion I have towards my professional goals and accomplishments need to also be the drive and passion I have towards my personal life. When asked what’s her definition of success, Ivanka says happiness. She doesn’t think you are truly successful unless you are a happy person and are happy with your life. She recalls many people who are professionally successful but miserable. She concluded by saying that she’s happy when she’s achieving her professional goals and when she’s with her husband and children.
Today my sister is no longer a teenager as she turns 20. I look back on those 20 years and how quickly they’ve passed by. She’s grown into a beautiful young woman with so much potential. She’s currently pursuing her law degree with the University of London and she’s enjoying her life the way the average 20 year old would. Looking back on how quickly those 20 years have gone by makes me realise how quickly another 20 years will soon pass me by. I also reminisce on my life when I turned 20. I look at the changes I’ve made in my life physically and who am I as a person and I think about who I’ll become over the next 20 years. I know this year I have made and will continue to make some major life changing decisions and I’m excited to see how it will impact my life 20 years from now. I try to pass on any guidance and knowledge to my sister that I think can help her along her life’s journey and I wish her all the best in her endeavours. To my sister Anikah, I love you, I am very proud of you and I hope you continue to let your light shine through the way you choose to live your life.
Yesterday my two nieces, Charlize and Faith fell ill and were taken to the hospital. Charlize was given two shots and taken home, while Faith stayed in the hospital under observation. More than a year ago, while Faith stayed with me overnight, she fell ill and I rushed her to the hospital. That experience was a bit scary for me. Throughout the whole ordeal, Faith was so brave, not once did she cry. Blood was taken from her and medication was administered intravenously. It’s the first time I’ve seen a baby not even flinch while being stuck with a needle. Yesterday was the same thing. However, her older sister Charlise did not respond the same way when she received her shots. Sometimes we look at people and assume so much about them. We think they’re weak, insecure and unaware of so much around them and other times we think so highly of others. I’ve learned that people show you the side of them they want you to see. Sometimes what you see in others is a reflection of yourself, so it’s always interesting to have someone else judge me. I’ve also realised while interacting with different people, some of my qualities are magnified and the best in me is brought out, while sometimes the opposite can happen. I’ve learned so much from watching Faith over the past two years and I’ll continue to watch her grow. Her strength in character for a two year old is quite admirable and it’s something I’ll definitely remind her of as she gets older.
Today I would like to thank my Aunt Bernice. She subscribes to my blog posts and reads them every morning. I usually have a 30 – 45 minute window before I start work to write my blog posts, so I’m not always left with much time for writing and proper editing. Any time she finds an error, she’ll send me a whatsapp message highlighting the error so I can make the necessary changes. Aunty Bernice, I appreciate all your assistance and the time you take to read and edit my blog posts. Please know that it is greatly appreciated. Love Always.